this is "nightline." >> tonight, when cyber bullies called her the world's ugliest woman, she decided to fight back with a message of her own. now her battle against bullies is going viral all the way to capitol hill. inspiring fellow victims, even celebrities. hello, world! >> the muppets return. the motley crew back on tv with the star-studded new show and major new developments. tonight we've got the real drama behind the scenes. from the infamous breakup to miss piggy's diva-like tendencies. >> starring role on a network show. viola davis. >> making history. becoming the first african-american woman to win an emmy for best actress in a drama. now dave vous talks to us about her long path from poverty to
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appearance. so she turned the hurt into a fuel to fight back. tonight she tells my "nightline" coanchor juju chang about her mission to end cyber bullying. one she's bringing all the way to washington. >> i decided to go look for muse oak youtube. and that's when i found it. >> reporter: it's the moment lizzy velasquez's life changed forever. >> i don't even know yes clicked on it but i did and that's when i lost it. >> reporter: stumbling upon a video called "the world's ugliest woman," unexpectedly starring herself. >> calling me a monster. asking why me parents didn't abort me. >> i wish you were dead. >> pick up a gun and end your life. >> reporter: she's suffered from morfan's syndrome and lipodistraef. it's impossible for her to gain weight. she's endured years of bullying due to her appearance. >> skinny bones, grandma, pork chop legs, why do you look like that, what's wrong with your
face? it was a long process of being really sad, then being really angry, then saying, i need to take this into my own hands, how can i turn it around? >> it must have been scary to go up against these online bullies and say, i'm going to take a stand. >> it was scary. but i wanted to have control over what i showed people who i was. >> reporter: her pain fueled a burning desire to fight back, speaking out against the ugliness of bullying. it started out small. >> my speaking didn't start until after i found the video. and i was really nervous. and i decided to do it. and that was the day that i decided, this is my purpose. >> reporter: litzy uploaded a youtube response to the video that could have silenced her. employing note cards to express her feelings. only revealing her face at the very end. >> i completely taught myself everything that i know about speaking via the internet and youtube.
i e-mailed how to be a motivational speaker. i said, my name's litzy, if you need a speaker here's my info. never told them i've only done one speech beforery i just wanted to have the hands-on experience. >> reporter: with experience under her belt, in december of 2013, litzy delivered a moving and masterful ted-x talk. >> people said, kill it with fire. my going to let that define me? no. i'm going to let my kills and success and accomplishments be the things that define me, not my outer appearance. >> reporter: the video went viral on youtube. more than double the views of that ugly video. her story strongly resonating with people around the world. >> she did a ted talk that knocked me out. please welcome litzy velasquez. >> what was it like to watch her ted talk numbers go from 1 million to 5 million to 10 million views? >> it is overwhelming. >> we just kept saying, what? what? you know.
it was crazy. >> reporter: talking with lizzy's parents lupe and rita velasquez it's clear where she gets her strength. >> when she was upon what did the doctors tell you? >> i did not remember seeing her when they deliver heard. the nurses were worried. they took a polaroid. and i said, i need to be with her. >> when you first laid eyes on your daughter what went through your mind? >> i was in love with her. it didn't matter, you know what we were going to go through, she was our baby. she was our child. i was just happy and excited. and i just couldn't wait to share her with the world. >> reporter: it wasn't until litzy began attending school that she realized just how different she was. >> i couldn't understand why other kids didn't like me or why they were hesitant to be around me. going into school, i never had that thought of, what am i going to do if somebody doesn't want to sit by me or be nice to me? even though i haven't said
anything to them. >> reporter: litzy refused to let the bullies win. nor would she let the fear of failure stop her from trying things out. like cheerleading. >> when i wore that uniform around campus, i felt like it was my superhero cape. i felt like it was my disguise to get out of my lizzy body and to be a cheerleader who is just like everybody else. i didn't know trying out for something so scary was going to make me feel so confident. i had no clue cheerleading would do something like that. >> reporter: that's lizzy. determined and confident. never taking no for an answer. >> hey, it's lizzy, welcome to another new video. >> reporter: now lizzy is a bona fide star on youtube, imparting wisdom to her 500,000 subscribers. >> i'm going to be honest. it was really hard for me to finally look in the mirror and accept who i was. >> reporter: her message, even inspiring celebrities. two weeks ago kylie jenner, writing this on instagram.
"people are so quick too say horrible things about me every day. sometimes i can't take it. i break down. i hide, i cry. litzy, you are so strong and i admire you so, so much." >> for her to take her incredibly huge platform to be able to say, this is lizzy, i was able to relate to her. for her to be able to be vulnerable in an instagram post with millions of followers. i think it's incredible. >> reporter: her fans come from all walks of life. but it's the young students enduring bullying at school who often relate to lizzy most. >> bullying for me started in about first or second grade. >> reporter: mckenna is a 15-year-old high school sophomore. >> they don't like my shoes, the way i wear my her. you're too fat. >> reporter: she says watching lizzy's videos gave her much-needed strength at a critical time. >> she chose to be happy. when she had the choice to give
up. >> reporter: which is why when mckenna met lizzy by chance outside her school she broke down in tears. >> i told her that she's one of the main reasons that i'm still here today. she's helped me so much without even realizing it. because i was ready to give up at that point. when i found her motivational speaking videos. >> reporter: it's stories like mckenna's that motivate lizzy to lobby for anti-bullying legislation on capitol hill even while dealing with her ongoing health issues. while lizzy's illnesses are by no means terminal she does have a heart condition doctors will have to closely monitor. all of this is documented in a new movie about her life. ♪ i want to see you be brave >> reporter: "a brave heart." already winning awards at eight different film festivals. >> who's your hero, who's your inspiration? >> every person that i hear from on a regular basis, people like mckenna. those are my heroes.
to hear from them and get messages from them and i can read their e-mails and read their pain and know what they're going through. but by the end of it i can feel them smiling. and if they can do that, i can do this. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm juju chang in austin, texas. >> "a brave heart." the lizzy velasquez story hits movie theaters friday. next behind the scenes of the new muppet show. plus viola davis tells us what led to her ground-breaking win at the emmys. ly? my li'l buddy? and what if this happened again? i was given warfarin in the hospital but i wondered if this was the right treatment for me. then my doctor told me about eliquis. eliquis treats dvt and pe blood clots and reduces the risk of them happening again.
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the muppets barring and edgier that ever. sounding off on relationship issues, even presidential candidates, on their new show. what do they have to say about donald trump? abc's rachel submit gets a look behind the scenes. >> hello, world! it's moi! >> reporter: those famous faces and outlandish personalities are back. >> no touching, no eye contact. >> reporter: armed with edgier
jokes, a hollywood set, plenty of fresh drama. >> what is she doing here? >> reporter: abc's "the muppets" taking viewers behind the scenes of miss piggy's late-night talk show with documentary cameras rolling onstage and off. >> you cut to views? that is a totally overused device to make easy jokes, i love it. >> reporter: i'm checking in on the show and the dchaotic cast behind that late-night magic. >> we're going to die of hypothermia. >> why get your friends involved with all these cameras? >> it's a funny thing, if we don't use can ras we're doing radio. >> reporter: the witty frog is the show's executive producer. one problem. after more than 40 years, kermit and miss piggy have called it quits. >> i mean, working with miss piggy has always been a challenge. this just takes it from mildly impossible to borderline unbearable. >> reporter: the starlet telling her side of the story to abc's
nick watt. >> first of all, i ended the relationship. >> you ended the relationship? >> i ended it. >> are you back out there? >> absolutely. i am playing the field. >> right. >> there is an application form that you have to fill out first, and then maybe, maybe you'll get a date with me. >> was he an accomplished lover? >> please. that is none of your business. if diane or oprah would ask, i might give an answer. by the way, when does diane sawyer get here? >> i'm -- >> oh, diane's not coming? >> no. >> nobody told me about this. >> reporter: their interspecies romance as timeless as the franchise itself. creator jim henson explains the puppetry in the documentary "henson's place: the man behind the muppets." >> in this one, i'm working the left hand and the head. >> i'm working the right hand. >> reporter: henson's creative genius propelling the franchise. ♪ the most sensational inspirational ♪
>> reporter: with "the muppet show." ♪ i like adventure i like romance ♪ >> reporter: and the movies. >> you need eye produces. >> pigs don't have eyebrows. >> reporter: the late joan rivers ambiguous piggy a make is there over. tina fey falling for that dashing frog in "muppets most wanted." now the new abc show from our parent company disney picks up just weeks after the piggy/kermit breakup. >> we are through! i have moved on! >> reporter: i had to find out if things are as peachy as they claim. >> welcome to "up late with miss piggy." this is where we call home. here is where the divine miss p. sits. >> can i try it out? >> oh, no, no, please don't. don't do that. she's got cameras on that seat 24/7. >> oh, okay, gotcha.
>> reporter: fuzzy is charged with warming up the audience for each show. >> the breakup heard round the world. >> oh, yeah. >> miss piggy and kermit. done. >> i know, i know, so sad. >> you've got behind the scenes intel. what's really going on? >> oh, i am sorry. i am sworn to secrecy. kermit the frog is my best friend so there is no way that you are going to get me to open up about my friend and dish dirt and besides i don't know anything. >> reporter: back in the writers room -- >> we did tidy up a bit. we spent they hours this morning. >> reporter: not much writing was going on. >> who's going to write something down here -- i want to have a thought. rachel, this is for you. >> what is this? >> yeah. >> what is your phone number? >> what are you doing? you can't do that, rachel's interviewing us. >> did she give you her number? >> almost. >> she gave me the area code. >> miss piggy says she's the one that broke up with kermit. >> liar. >> liar? >> you know miss piggy. come on.
you know, it's all about her and what she wants. all the peoples and the fans. you know. it's too much sometimes. >> yeah? >> guy deserves a break. like donald trump. >> reporter: conflicting stories. so i guess we'll have to go to the man, or frog, himself to get the real scoop. >> she said she's the one that broke up with you. >> oh, well -- >> care to set the record straight? >> listen, rachel, it was kind of the other way around. she would never -- you know, she would actually never come back to the swamp with me. >> never? >> something about high heels and mud. >> wow. >> i thought pigs liked mud. >> reporter: are miss piggy and kermit done for good? rumor has it kermit has already moved on to a marketing exec denise. >> i'm attracted to pigs. >> safe to say you have a type? >> a type? well, i do have a font. i like types new roman. >> reporter: but doesn't kiss and tell. >> it's too late for me, save yourself. >> reporter: a good idea,
especially if miss piggy is your ex. >> wonderful to see you, thanks for -- it's a french thing, the only french thing i do. >> reporter: for "nightline," i'm rachel submit in los angeles. >> "the muppets" premieres tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern here on abc. next, how to get away with exploding expectations. viola davis' historic moment at the emmys and what she told us about diversity on tv. ♪ it's the final countdown! ♪ ♪ the final countdown! if you're the band europe, you love a final countdown. it's what you do. if you want to save fifteen percent or more on car insurance, you switch to geico. it's what you do.
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measure success? how high you rise? how far you had to travel? by any measure viola davis is a successful actress. last night she picked up hardware to prove it making history along the way. >> viola davis. "how to get away with murder." >> reporter: an historic win. viola davis becoming the first african-american woman to win an emmy for best actress in a drama. >> the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. >> reporter: her impassioned speech moving audience members to tears. quoting hair ret tubman. >> i see a line. and over that line i see green fields and lovely flowers. and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. but i can't seem to get there no how. i can't seem to get over that line. >> it means a lot.
it means my work counts for something. it means that 27 years professionally that i've put into this business means something. >> reporter: born in south carolina, davis grew up in extreme poverty. a juilliard graduate, her on-screen breakthrough came in the 2008 film "doubt," acting alongside meryl streep. >> you can't hold a child responsible for what god gave them to be. >> reporter: her role at a housekeeper in "the help" earned her an academy award nomination for best actress. >> you is kind, you is smart, you is important. >> reporter: but it wasn't the type of role she aspired to play. >> for women of color, this is basically it. i do not sit with 10, 15 scripts in front of me, all lead roles, and i say evenny meany mineny mow. that's not been my option. >> so guess what? guess what? you go to jail. >> reporter: now davis is paving the way on the small screen in abc's "how to get away with murder." she plays a fierce, sexy defense
attorney. >> the question i'm asked most often as a defense attorney is whether i can tell if my clapts a clients are innocent or guilty. my answer is always the same. i don't care. >> reporter: viola admitting there's still progress to be made. >> i am aware that my presence is probably unusual in hollywood. i'm aware of just so many actors of color out there because they come to me all the time and they feel like they're on the periphery. >> reporter: not at the emmys. not any longer. >> thank you for taking us over that line. thank you for the television academy. thank you. >> good for her. it was maya angelou who wrote, "still i rise. i am the hope and the dream." viola davis is that and more. thank you for watching abc news. tune into "good morning america" tomorrow. and as always, we're online 24/7